Brooklyn College will celebrate the accomplishments of 3,801 graduates at its 2024 commencement ceremony on May 24 at the Barclays Center. Specifically, the college will confer 2,695 baccalaureate degrees, 1,046 master’s degrees, and 60 advanced certificates.

“I could not be prouder of our students in the Class of 2024 and the perseverance it took to get to this point in their lives,” President Michelle J. Anderson said. “Once they graduate, they will join more than 165,000 proud Brooklyn College alumni and make a positive impact in the wider world.”

Film producer and philanthropist Abigail E. Disney will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and serve as the keynote speaker.

Known for her passion for advocating for real change to capitalism as it exists in today’s world, Disney is a philanthropist and social activist who has worked with organizations supporting peacebuilding, gender justice, and systemic cultural change.

Abigail E. Disney

Also a documentary filmmaker, Disney won an Emmy for The Armor of Light, and her latest film, The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, which she co-directed with Kathleen Hughes, made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is screened in select theaters and is available on demand.

On her podcast “All Ears,” Disney used the film as a jumping-off point to ask big-thinking business leaders, union organizers, economists, and others how they would fix our economic system.

Disney is also chair and co-founder of Level Forward, an ecosystem of storytellers, entrepreneurs, and social changemakers dedicated to balancing artistic vision, social impact, and stakeholder return. She created the nonprofit Peace is Loud, which uses storytelling to advance social movements, and the Daphne Foundation, which supports organizations working for a more equitable, fair, and peaceful New York City.

She is an internationally sought-after speaker and panelist who has graced the stage at the Women’s Economic Summit-Paris, the Financial Times Women at the Top Summit, Fast Company Impact Council, and DealBook DC Strategy Forum. Her 2020 TED Talk, “Dignity isn’t a privilege. It’s a worker’s right,” has garnered nearly 2 million views.

Carol L. Zicklin ’61

Brooklyn College Foundation Trustee Carol L. Zicklin ’61 will be bestowed the Presidential Medal of Honor. A long-standing Brooklyn College Foundation trustee, Zicklin and her husband, Larry, are among the largest donors to Brooklyn College and the CUNY system. Possessing a lifelong commitment to lifting people up through the power of education, Zicklin trained as a teacher and went on to teach elementary school students in Brooklyn.

After she and her husband moved to New Jersey and raised their two children, Zicklin went on to earn an M.S. in Ed. in 1976 from Rutgers University and then a learning disabilities teacher certification from Montclair State University.

After supervising a resource room for special education students, Zicklin became a learning disability teacher consultant for the Child Study Team in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and later worked at Middlesex County College as a learning disability specialist, assessing college students and instructing them in advocating for themselves with their professors.

Zicklin and her husband have never forgotten what they gained from their CUNY educations, and they have been generous in their support over the years.

At Brooklyn College, the Zicklins established two endowed chairs and supported the Sandi Salum Memorial Award for students in biology. They also provided endowed support for the Zicklin Scholars Degree Completion Program for Brooklyn College students nearing graduation to take classes in the summer or winter that help keep them on track toward graduation.

Rhema Mills

Rhema Mills will serve as valedictorian for the Class of 2024. The health and nutrition sciences major is living proof that through tragedy one can triumph. Mills was born on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas and has always been proud of her Afro-Caribbean heritage. Embracing different cultures and perspectives, Mills always knew the best way for her to find success was to expand on educational opportunities wherever they might be.

Thanks to her parents’ many sacrifices, Mills attended the most prestigious private high school in the Bahamas—Queen’s College—and thrived, earning top scores on national exams, while earning support and praise from her teachers.

But as she flourished, Mills noticed a dramatic change in her health. A doctor’s visit grew into a hospital stay, which eventually escalated into emergency surgery. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and the ordeal changed her life.

But with that challenge came more support and inner strength. Her parents transitioned to veganism and never missed a doctor’s appointment. Her friends also never let her forget she had limitless potential.

The health scare reignited and sharpened Mills’ focus, and despite the setback, she graduated with honors and earned national awards, along with more than $100,000 in scholarships. Overcoming the challenges also lit a fire in Mills to pursue a potential career path in food systems, nutrition, and health disparities.

But just as one hurdle was cleared, more appeared. Less than two years after her health battle, Hurricane Dorian destroyed her family’s business. Then the COVID-19 pandemic put them into financial distress. And almost unimaginably, the disease would later take her father’s life.

Suddenly, Mills was back to square one. The dream of attending a private college in New York City was put on hold.

That is when she found a home at Brooklyn College and quickly realized it was where she needed to be. Moving to Brooklyn by herself at 20 to attend college allowed for more self-reflection, and the quality and value of the education made her dreams attainable.

Her passion for public health deepened, and the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences opened her eyes to a multitude of possibilities. Mills’ professors saw her potential immediately, and she jumped at the opportunities to conduct research, lead clubs, and build an amazing network.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in health and nutrition sciences with a public health concentration, Mills is ready to pursue a master’s degree in public health and eventually work in a field related to addressing chronic diseases and racial disparities.

Congratulations to the Class of 2024!